KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For a while there, the White Sox had not one but two Cy Young Award candidates in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.
After Quintana’s third not-quality start in his last four in the Sox’ 10-3 loss Sunday to the Kansas City Royals, his name can probably be taken off a list of good candidates which includes Corey Kluber, Mashiro Tanaka, Cole Hamels, Zach Britton, Rick Porcello, J.A. Happ and Justin Verlander.
Quintana, in his shortest outing since April 19, 2015 when he gave up nine runs over four innings at Detroit, was knocked around for six runs on 10 hits and three walks in four innings Sunday. He struck out one.
“You never really expect one of these coming out of him,’’ manager Robin Ventura said, “but I guess one every couple of years you do.’’
Quintana has nothing to hang his head about. He’s 12-11 with a 3.27 ERA and went into the game with the fifth-best FanGraphs WAR (wins above replacement) among AL pitchers. In his next start he will likely hit the 200-inning mark for the fourth straight year and add another tidy ERA to 3.51, 3.32 and 3.36 from his last three years.
In July, Quintana finally got some much deserved recognition by being named to the All-Star team for the first time and could finish in the top 10 in Cy voting for the first time. Ventura, for one, says he is better than ever.
“There’s been a little more, whether it’s velocity, location, presence,’’ Ventura said. “He’s always been able to be calm and things like that but there is a little more to it when a guy is three or four years into it. He’s not trying to prove he belongs any more.
“Now he’s trying to prove he’s one of the better pitchers even though the [career 45-45 won-lost] record is an issue with that. Now the record is put to the wayside because he’s proven to be one of the better pitchers in the league. Statistically when you look at the numbers that matter he’s up there with everybody.’’
As is Sale (16-8, 3.03 ERA, 215 strikeouts), who finished sixth, fifth, third and fourth in Cy Young voting in his four seasons as a starter and has built his best case yet for a No. 1 finish. Sale is finishing strong and is tied for second with Fulmer in ERA (3.03) behind Tanaka (2.97), is fourth in strikeouts with 205 and wins with 16.
The last Sox to rank in the top five in those three categories was right-hander Esteban Loaiza in 2003. Loaiza was second to the Blue Jays’ Roy Halladay in Cy Young voting that year. Sale, at 210 2/3 innings pitched, will likely surpass his career high 214 1/3 set in 2013 when he faces the Phillies Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Quintana has two starts left.
“I want to finish strong and I want to get a complete game, too,’’ said Quintana, who does not have one this season and just one in his career, in 2015.
“It was a bad day for me. I was fighting too much with my delivery, especially the first couple innings, and I was behind the counts.’’
Alex Gordon hit his 150th career homer in a three-run second, one of seven Royals to reach base through the first 10 batters.
“That’s about the first time I’ve ever seen him do that in a season that’s been unbelievable,’’ said first-year Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, who hit his 37th homer against Danny Duffy (12-2), another pitcher whose name has been tossed around in Cy Young discussions. “Those guys squared the ball up and found holes.’’
The Sox (72-77) lost their second in a row after winning the first game of a four-game series. The finale, the makeup of a rainout May 26, is Monday afternoon.